The Neocon Myths Behind Afghanistan and Iraq

The Power of Nightmares

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2003)

Part 3 Shadows in the Cave

Film Review

Part 3 concerns the mythology the neoconservatives created around international terrorism to justify the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US Invents al Qaeda

The final video starts with the car bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. These were the first attacks Bin Laden and Zawahiri organized against US interests as part of their new international jihad (see How the CIA Funds Jihad). They recruited four bombers from training camps Abdullah Azzam started during the Soviet occupation.

Contrary to the myth promoted by the neocons, these camps were exclusively dedicated to training Muslims to conduct jihad in their own countries (e.g. Uzbekistan and Chechnya). Their leaders wanted absolutely nothing to do with international terrorism or Bin Laden’s jihad against the US. They allowed Zawahiri and Bin Laden to recruit from these camps because he was financing them. Nevertheless, even members of Islamic Jihad opposed what they were doing.

In Jan 2001 the US government brought the embassy bombers to trial in the US. They also tried Bin Laden in absentia. To charge him under existing US law, federal prosecutors had to prove an organized group he commanded carried out the bombings. Because no such group existed, they invented one. The name al Qaeda came from a paid FBI informant.

9-11

Immediately following his election George W Bush, like his father, totally rejected the neoconservative’s insistence that the US should invade other nations and “dictate how to run their countries.”

9-11 would change all this, propelling Richard Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld to international power with four terrifying myths:

  1. That Bin Laden was responsible for the 9-11 attacks (according to official FBI accounts, Khalid Sheik Mohammed was responsible for the “plane operations).”*
  2. That “al Qaeda,” a phantom organization the neocons latched onto for propaganda purposes, was a genuine international entity running sleeper cells in 50-60 countries.
  3. That “al Qaeda’s” ultimate goal was to force the US to live under Islamic fundamentalism.
  4. That the invasion of Afghanistan was essential to destroy the heart of “al Qaeda.”

During the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the US and NATO allied themselves with the Afghan Northern Alliance. The latter hated the foreign Muslims who came to came to Afghanistan for training and received a generous bounty for handing them over to US troops. Nearly all of them ended up in Guantanomo, despite having no connection with bin Laden or international terrorism.

The Role of Hollywood

Following the US invasion, the neocons invested two new myths. The first was that bin Laden was hiding out in a sophisticated bunker built into the Torah Borah caves on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The second was that the US was harboring a vast network of terrorist sleeper cells preparing a new attack on US soil. Although both were totally discredited by mid-2003, these myths would be solidified in the public mind by dozens of TV dramas about hidden terrorist sleeper cells in major US cities.

A popular theme of these dramas was the dirty bomb*, which according to actual DD tests was unlikely to kill anyone because the radiation produced by a dirty bomb was so dispersed.

So-called “dirty bombs** featured prominently in most of these productions, despite numerous Pentagon tests demonstrating dirty bomb radiation is too widely dispersed to kill anyone.

World Leaders Rush to Sign On

Inspired by the immense power this ideology of fear gave political leaders, other western leaders quickly signed on to the terror agenda. When the neocons began circulating the new mythology in mid-2002 that Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda and 9-11, British Prime Minister Tony Blair became one of its most vocal proponents. Despite knowing from the outside that the war on Iraq was based on fabricated evidence.


*This video was produced in 2003, when it was still widely believed that 19 Muslim hijackers were responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers. This version of events is now totally discredited.
**A dirty bomb is an explosive device made from nuclear waste combined with conventional explosives – with the intent of spreading radioactive material over a widely populated area
***This revelation is all the more remarkable given that Curtis made this documentary prior to Dr David Kelly’s so-called “suicide” in 2003. Kelly worked for the British Ministry of Defense and was a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He came to public attention in July 2003, when a BBC journalist published an-off-the record discussion about the British role in fabricating evidence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. He died under extremely suspicious circumstances in later that month. A group of British doctors is demanding a fresh investigation into Kelly’s death: Doctors Claim Cover Upl

http://vimeo.com/84421510

8 thoughts on “The Neocon Myths Behind Afghanistan and Iraq

  1. Can you believe this? On this mornings ABC news
    Quote;
    “Former prime minister John Howard says he was “embarrassed” intelligence he used to take Australia to war in Iraq was inaccurate and denies it was a “deliberate deception”.

    In an interview broadcast on the Seven Network, Mr Howard said he and the then National Security Committee of Cabinet in 2003 sent Australian troops into Iraq because they believed American intelligence that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the West.

    However, he said as evidence emerged that there were no weapons of mass destruction “I felt embarrassed. I couldn’t believe it, because I had genuinely believed it”.

    How many other deliberate deceptions? All of the 21698 of them.

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  2. “May have operations in 50-60 nations, including the US.” – Donald Rumsfeld
    “…battle between good and evil” – Richard Perle
    “I may be wrong in believing it, but I believe it.” – Tony Blair
    Has Adam Curtis made any films since 2003? And, because the non-existent terrorist threat of 2003 was revealed by people such as Adam Curtis, was ISIS created to overcome people’s doubts about the existence of terrorism in September 2014?

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    • The Power of Nightmares was Curtis’s first documentary. His more recent documentaries relate to earlier types of ideological manipulation. In 2005 he made The Century of the Self, about Edward Bernays and the use of public relations propaganda to transform Americans from citizens to consumers.

      Trapped
      (2007) relates to the ideological propaganda around “individual freedom” that brought Reagan and Thatcher to power.

      His most recent documentary is All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011). It relates to Ayn Rand’s “objectivism” and the cult following she developed in Silicon Valley. This would also have major implications for the cult of individualism that developed in the last decades of the 20th century.

      Unfortunately I think most people still believe al Qaeda is real. I have no idea why the CIA and Mossad decided to rebrand it as ISIS.

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